Middle Tennessee State: 49
Georgia Tech: 28
Coming off its second overtime loss of the season, Georgia Tech would take a break from conference play to host the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The teams met in each of the previous two seasons, with the Jackets claiming consecutive victories of 42-14 and 49-21. The Raiders entered the game at 2-1, having fallen to McNeese State 27-21 in the season opener before bouncing back to defeat Florida Atlantic and Memphis in consecutive weeks.
Middle Tennessee took the game’s opening possession to its own 39, gaining just one first down before Logan Kilgore had his pass intercepted by Jabari Hunt-Days at the Yellow Jacket 48 yard line.
Tevin Washington found Jeff Greene for 11 yards on first down and Orwin Smith raced 33 yards to the Middle Tennessee 5 two plays later to setup a first and goal. Washington gained 4 yards to the 1 before pushing into the end zone on second down to put the Jackets ahead 7-0 after just three minutes of play.
The Blue Raiders knotted the contest on the ensuing drive after beginning from the own 25 following the kickoff. Kilgore found a barrage of receivers on short routes to move his offense into Yellow Jacket territory before connecting with Jacob Corbaley for 21 yards on third down to the Ramblin’ Wreck 4 yard line. He went back to the air one play later and found Anthony Amos for a 4 yard touchdown pass that made it 7-7 midway through the opening period.
Tech gave the ball back after just two plays when Darren Waller lost a fumble to T.T. Barber at the Yellow Jackets 23 yard line. Middle Tennessee was unable to capitalize, however, as Carlos Lopez missed a fourth down field goal wide right to keep the game tied at 7-all.
Late in the first quarter, the Blue Raiders began from their own 21 following a Ryan Rodwell punt and pushed out to their 40 as the period came to a close. On the first play of the second quarter, Benny Cunningham exploded for a 60 yard touchdown to give the Raiders the lead at 14-7.
The Jackets continued to dig themselves in a hole on the kickoff that followed when Broderick Snoddy lost a fumble to Khari Burke at the Tech 32. They quickly reversed the momentum though when Malcolm Munroe recovered a Shaun White fumble at the Yellow Jacket 30 just one play later.
Orwin Smith, Robert Godhigh, David Sims, and Tony Zenon alternated carriers en route to the Middle Tennessee 14 on six consecutive runs. Washington and Zenon combined for 3 yards on the next two plays before the senior quarterback found Zach Laskey for 6 yards to the 5 on 3th and 7. Washington picked up two on fourth down to make it first and goal and then pushed into the end zone from 3 yards out to tie the game at 14 with 9:33 to play in the half. The score capped off an 11 play, 69 yard drive that consumed five minutes of game time.
The Raiders started from their own 12 after the kick and marched right back down the field, torching the Tech defense while covering 88 yards in 12 plays to regain the lead at 21-14 on a 1 yard run by Cunningham.
Smith returned the kickoff that followed 55 yards to Middle Tennessee’s 45 to setup Tech’s final drive of the half with just under five minute to go. Godhigh and Zenon pushed to the 32 and Washington found Smith for 18 yards to the 17 two plays later. Godhigh gained 7 more, and with an added facemask penalty on the Raiders, Tech was knocking on the door at the 5 yard line. Laskey pushed to the 1 on first down and Washington scored two plays later for his third touchdown of the contest to again tie the game at 21-21.
The Raiders advanced out to their 43 on the drive that followed, but simply chewed the clock to send the contest to intermission all tied up.
The Jackets held the first possession of the second half, but failed to gain a first down after being hindered by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on first down. Rodwell’s punt put the Raiders at their own 32, from whence it took just five plays to cover the distance for the score that made it 28-21. Cunningham accounted for the touchdown on a 23 yard run with 10:49 left in the quarter.
After the kick, Tech gave the ball right back when Godhigh lost a fumble to Craig Allen at the Ramblin’ Wreck 32, but the Tech defense made a stand and eventually forced a punt that rolled out of bounds at the Yellow Jacket 3 yard line.
Five runs pushed Tech out to its 41 before Washington was sacked for a 7 yard loss on first down. Laskey picked up 5 yards on 2nd and 17 before Tech’s senior leader went back to the air to find Darren Waller for 8 yards to make it 4th and 4. As is customary with coach Johnson’s offense, Tech went for the first down and picked it up on a 6 yard run by Washington. Zenon and Sims pushed to Middle Tennessee’s 34, but Tech soon found itself in another tough situation, facing a 4th and 12 from this spot. Tech would burn a timeout to think about it, but eventually elected to go for the first down and came up one yard short on 11 yard pass to Smith that reached the 25.
The Blue Raiders took the field and scored after just one play, a 75 yard pass from Kilgore to Marcus Henry, to put Tech in a 14 point hole at 35-21.
The Jackets took over at their own 21 and pushed to midfield as the third quarter was winding down. With less than a minute to play period, Washington hit Zenon for 24 yards to the Middle Tennessee 27 before being sacked for a 5 yard loss as the quarter expired. Tech covered the remaining distance in short chunks to score on a one yard run by Washington at the 11:23 mark in the fourth to make it 35-28 in favor of the Raiders.
The Yellow Jacket defense did its part on the drive that followed, forcing a Middle Tennessee punt to give the ball back to the offense at the Yellow Jacket 17 yard line. But just when it looked as if Tech might turn the corner, Washington threw a deep interception to Kenneth Gilstrap on first down that was returned to the Ramblin’ Wreck 15 yard line. The Raiders would go on to score four plays later on a four yard run by Cunningham to push the lead back to 14 at 42-28.
Tech now needed two scores in just six minutes for a chance at victory. Washington would lead a drive to the Blue Raider 35, but his offense was unable to complete the drill and eventually turned the ball over on downs after a fourth down sack.
Middle Tennessee continued its offensive clinic, scoring in five plays at the 2:43 mark to all but ensure victory.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Vad Lee came on to lead Tech on its final drive, completing two passes and rushing for 23 yards before time expired at the Blue Raider 21 yard line.
The loss was Tech’s first to a non-BCS team since 1996 when the Joe Hamilton led Jackets fell to the Navy Midshipmen 36-26 in Atlanta (Paul Johnson served as Navy’s offensive coordinator from 1995-1996). It also completed the first two-game home losing streak since 1988 when Tech fell to Clemson and N.C. State in consecutive weeks.
Tevin Washington’s four rushing touchdowns were good enough to tie him for the school record for rushing touchdowns in a game.
The Blue Raiders went on to win five of their remaining eight games to finish at 8-4 on the season, but failed to receive a bowl invitation.
MTSU – 24
GT – 25
MTSU – 264
GT – 238
MTSU – 246
GT – 187
MTSU – 1
GT – 1
MTSU – 2-1
GT – 3-3
MTSU – 7-43
GT – 6-60
Game summary: http://www.ramblinwreck.com/sports/m-footbl/recaps/092912aaa.html
– Game highlights